Subject Dear Helen...
Dear Helen,
if you have read my HowTo, you have certainly noticed that it's based
on a careful analysis and not at all emotional. For some reason you
have decided not reply with answers to the topics I raised, but
rather with a flame fest. This is not my normal style of discussion
but let me give you an answer anyway:

> Marcus, it is great that you and a few other newcomers to the
>community have got a discussion going about such issues. It would,
>however, be a pity if you didn't just step back a little and
>consider what has gone before and what is already in place.
> You have devoted many hours and many words to your postings here,
>the graphics ideas and the article on your website. The article on
>the website carries some good, strong messages but it is spoiled by
>some (forgive me) upstart assumptions about the large crowd of
>people who constitute the IBDI. The most factual assertion you have
>made there is this one:
> "As for the question who should be the members, I don't really know
>the community well enough to suggest something."

I don't think that's the most factual. Anyway, you quote a statement
of mine. Have you forgotten to add your comment to it?

> Actually, *all* suggestions are welcome. It is unfortunate that
>some of your good idea have come along with some pretty strong
>assertions which are giving unjustified offence to some people.

I didn't want to offend anyone. If you blame me to offend people, I
hope you'll explain what the problem is

> You opine:
> "I think IBDI members could potentially also join the Firebird
>association, but it is my impression that the position of IBDI (cf.
>B.2.c) isn't really compatible with a full commitment to Firebird
>and they should therefore quit IBDI in order to be eligible to the
>Firebird association's directing committee."
> If this was not so silly, it would be scary.

Ok, a first offence here? So tell me what's the problem, dear Helen.
But please in the context of Firebird Association, that's where
you've found the piece of text.

>You have some good ideas but your sensibility to the climate needs
>quite a lot of development yet. I do strongly caution you not to
>advertise your web page in its current form too widely. It doesn't
>have the sanction of Firebird and you have not sought confirmation
>for your assertions.

Oh, you caution me :/ I tell you what, Helen: This paper is not
written in the name of Firebird. I made very clear in the head
paragraphe what it's all about: A comment from outside. That's my
opinion and nothing more. And advertising? I mentioned it a couple of
times, in the context of a directly related issue, the website.

>It would make a lot of sense for you to >distill out and present
>your ideas about company formation, without >forcing them into a
>context which you do not yet understand very >clearly.

I suppose you're referring here to my current opinion that I'd prefer
not to have IBDI members in the directing committee of a Firebird
Association? Well, that's my opinion and I also explained why.

> Please recognise what the IBDI is and what it is not. Let's start
>with what it is not. It is not a formal organisation or company in
>any shape or form.

Oh no? Indeed I got that wrong. Wonder why? Because at least some of
you use a "IBDI founding member" signature in your email. This
suggests to me that it has been formally founded and hence, for the
very least, is a company.

>It is a network of individuals with no ideology but a strong
>determination to work together to make IB survive and thrive. As
>circumstances have changed radically several times since its
>formation at the beginning of 2000, so have the perspectives of
>individual participants, both in what they contribute and what they
>can take from it.
> The first phase was *literally* to save IB from Death Row. The
>idea of releasing the source code of the unwanted database was
>seeded by the departing R & D people in their letters of resignation
>in December 1999. It was flown as a kite by Borland Developer
>Relations staff throughout Christmas/New Year 2000 and exhaustively
>discussed in community fora (newsgroups, lists and websites).
> The Borland CEO Dale Fuller had been caught with his pants around
>his ankles when the Division departed. Overnight, his misjudgement
>of the effects of axing the imminent release of InterBase 6 lost him
>several million dollars' worth of cash-cow income he planned to get
>from IB 5 product and support customers during the first half of
>2000. Open Source was his opportunity to get some Flavour of the
>Month votes on the Linux front, which he was actively courting in
>other areas at that time, and win affection back for the INPR stocks.
> In the IBDI we had groups forming for all sorts of purposes:
>discussion of licensing models, management of code development in
>order to complete IB 6, business models for cooperative tools
>development and more. Behind the scenes, a core group was
>coordinating an infrastructure for this IBDI network but also
>planning and arranging finance for a company to stand behind the new
>enterprises and develop new business in support, training,
>distribution and publishing. This group was IBPhoenix. For one
>member's proposal, CEO Fuller called an asking price of
>$100,000,000. Kidding, right?
> After weeks of negotiation, Fuller made his proposition for the
>spin-off company. It wasn't ideal and it was full of unresolved
>legal problems but it came with the promise of open-sourcing
>InterBase and the prospect of getting IB's development cycles out of
>the custody of the company that Fuller had very publicly
>stated "didn't do databases".
> IBDI's first phase was over. The database would survive.
> Two key IBDI/IBPhoenix people went in as designated officers of the
>company-to-be. Ann Harrison was hired on contract, as CEO-
>designate, to direct the late beta database into a state of
>readiness for public release as both source and binary by April
>2000. At that point, only the Windows version was close to ready;
>the Linux version was in very early alpha.
> It was Ann's role also, together with Paul Beach and Matt Larsen,
>to finish the negotiations with Borland, set up a working structure
>for the new company and to forge business partner relationships from
>which cash flow would be generated. [[ Paul Beach and Matt Larsen
>spent six unpaid months doing this; and both injected their
>personal monies into the expenses for the new company's
>infrastructure. They didn't get it back. The projected business
>partners got let down, too.]]
> The IBDI carried on with the many activities surrounding the NewCo
>business plan. The Architecture, Priorities and Marketing lists
>started up. Ann's small R & D team at Borland participated
>regularly in the lists. IBPhoenix closed up shop as the groups out
>in the general community became self-coordinating. It was one big,
>optimistic network, all looking forward to the Big Chance for
> Well, April went by, May went by, June went by - and still no
>resolution of the contractual difficulties. Fuller hired a new
>legal counsel who added more and more conditions to the original
>proposition until, finally, it became obvious that Borland had no
>intention of offering a signable contract.
> At the end of July, Fuller suddenly put the InterBase R & D team on
>overtime, locked Ann and Paul out of the network, ordered changes to
>the IPL and the code headers to exclude ISC and instructed R & D to
>rebuild everything and release it. The announcements followed and
>the source code was opened. Major pieces were missing, notably the
>test suites and the code for the new Install API. Moreover, the
>community was excluded from active involvement in the source code
>development and the terms were not negotiable.
> Firebird was the community's response to that. For months the IBDI
>had been building up a register of people interested in working with
>the opened code in various capacities. An enormous amount of
>networking went on at that time and teams formed projects.

>Firebird >wasn't a fork at the beginning, it was simply the only
>place >anything was happening with the opened source. One journo
>described >the situation as a "reverse fork" on Borland's part.

Exactly what I have found as well...

> [[ IBPhoenix also reactivated itself then and spent several weeks
>trying to interest our former investment prospects. But times and
>fortunes had changed just too much in the NASDAQ slide ...
>investment in an ISC-style model of company is just a little bit too
> in current conditions.

>It doesn't mean we have given up, >though. We are just not as
>focussed on it and we are open to >different models to make it

Oh, that's indeed interesting. What you're saying is that you (IBDI)
controls the Firebird project and actually doesn't intend to let it
become a non-profit organization but rather turn it into a commercial
venture? That's an option indeed, I just wrote about it in my reply
to Mark. But if that's been your intention over all the time, then I
think you haven't well explained this actual objective of IBDI on
your website. Lookint at your site and the one of IBPhoenix I get the
impression that noone intends to turn the project into a commercial
venture. IBPhoenix presents itself as a consulting company and IBDI
as well, I've always seen IBDI as a news site.

> For weeks, Borland gave out no credible information about its
>intentions. As the IB group within Borland moved from hand to hand
>inside the R & D structure and overtures both public and private
>from the community were simply ignored, the fork became reality
>simply by default - the other team didn't show up. Firebird
>developers were fixing builds and bugs, while the Borland code tree
>was moribund.
> The IBDI had become pretty dormant until recently, with active
>developers moving into more specialised fora (Architect and
>Priorities, as well as Firebird-devel). Pavel started up his site
>on SourceForge and has kept the news side of things well covered.
>The IBPhoenix site has become the main focus for documentation,
>thanks to the efforts of Ann and the two Pauls.
> On the IBDI site, the IBDI Developer register has continued to
>grow - we clearly have no shortage of skill and will in our
>community - and How-to articles get added to the ReallyUseful pages
>from time to time. The Tools page is the most active part of the
>site at present; and I continue to need space for the InterBase
>Developer's Handbook project which is now reactivated after lying
>fallow for nine months.
> I think it is possible the IBDI, per se, has outlived its
>usefulness. One side of me wants the IBDI concept to keep going, if
>only to perpetuate the vision of the InterBase community as one big
>network of individuals with the database as its centre of interest.
>I know it's unrealistic under the current conditions. It's
>regrettable that our former friends and colleagues in Borland R & D
>are estranged from us by events and NDAs and my heart says it's only
> Another argument for retaining the IBDI network could be the need
>to have a "standing place" for those amongst us who are Borland
>VARs. They used to be quite vocal and visible here, and there are
>signs now that some (like Dmitry) are starting to feel comfortable
>about operating in both the commercial and Firebird spheres.
> Additionally, third party tools developers have been a vital part
>of our network all along. They did their part when sacrifices had
>to be made in the "Save InterBase" phase and they are still here and
>active now - and supportive of the Firebird effort. Jason Wharton,
>for example, has funded the IBDI site from Day One and continues to
>plough his own money, time and resources into other initiatives in
>the IB community. Many of these developers are the backbone of our
>support list and give good value to the Architecture and Priorities
> For all that, I don't think the IBDI website is as crucial to the
>overall community's solidarity as it has been in the past. I don't
>think there is room for another community website. I think our
>domain name is now inappropriate. With all this overlap of
>websites, I'm already having difficulty finding fresh material for
>our site.
> What I am getting to is this - and I haven't raised it with Jason
>or Dalton - how do you folk out there feel about dropping the IBDI
>site and moving Tools, ReallyUseful, the history and case studies,
>the list pages and the IBDH stuff to a site such as Marcus
> Could it be more useful to people to pick up on the "Firebird" name
>as the source of information, news, support, links for docs,
>downloads and so on?
> Is it apt to say that a "" domain is a more fitting
>home now for the effort surrounding open source InterBase?
> Would it polarise the IBDI community further? or is the
>polarisation complete? or is "polarisation" even an issue, since it
>is outside the power of anyone except Borland management to mend?
> Is the Firebird project a natural stage of evolution of the IBDI
>and all that we did together last year?
> Thoughts, please, from anyone who still feels a sense of belonging
>to the community network...
> >The decision how to present Firebird on the
> >web must be taken collectively and so I think a little discussion
> >about it is apropriate.
> ...collectively by those who are active, I'm sure you meant to

Yes, that's what I wanted to say. I was, in that paragraph talking
about the Firebird Company, which is - if you have read my HowTo -,
the core of active people.

> Any discussion about it *is* appropriate. I consider it very
>important NOT to trivialise the stake that the actual workers own.
>We give time, money and sweat and so each of us has a personal
>investment in this "thing".

I'm glad to hear discussion is welcome. Also I want to show respect
for what has been done, and after all your writing I must indeed say
IBDI had a more important role in all the developments than I had
thought. Thanks for explaining.

By the way, I certainly don't want to take anything away from you. I
simply noticed that the current structures are (in my opinion) not
adapted to the objective of the whole venture, which is to
sucessfully market Firebird.

Only a few days ago you wrote in an answer to me (don't remember the
exact context), that _you_ as an IBDI member, had a principle to be
impartial and would avoid to prefer Firebird over InterBase.

That's what made me say that IBDI isn't fully commited to Firebird.
Because the fork in the code is a fact and only Borland can do
anything about this. I therefore think that the community is well
advised to concentrate on Firebird and especially to adopt the name
Firebird to designate the community which, of course, makes that IBDI
as you described it is the organizational center of this community.
If, as you suggested above, you'd become, which I
personally think is a good idea, then the question must no longer
exist: You _are_ Firebird and no longer something in between.

Of course IBDI in its current role of an impartial observer and news
site, would be lost because this is not compatible with a full
comitment to Firebird IMHO. Maybe the current Firebird site (with a
different name) could take that role, that would be a job for PHPNuke.

> We already *have* a distribution infrastructure in place, which is

IBPhoenix is distribution? That makes no sense to me. Since you
already think about changing structures, please build something
coherent! I don't want to repeat myself... ;)

> I have been watching you misrepresenting IBPhoenix as some sort
>of "commercial competitor" to Firebird. This unfortunately falls
>into the same category as the assertions that Borland employees have
>been falsely pushing out in the Borland newsgroups. We really can't
>deal with TWO threads of FUD. One is hard enough!

Commercial, yes but not a competitor. In my idea, Firebird should
ideally be organized as non-profit. It would provide builds and basic
doc. and stuff, for free. But it wouldn't provide support, which is a
commercial thing. Therefore the two would be complementory, rather
than competitors. Just my idea...
> You need to understand the stake that active Firebird and IBDI
>people have in the IBPhoenix name. Ann Harrison pays her rent from
>private contract work she undertakes under the IBPhoenix banner.
>She has an e-commerce infrastructure which will be capable of
>producing and distributing CD distros and packages of Firebird + add-
>ons - and of the InterBase code, too, if there is demand for it. I
>would like to think that *I* could market my development and
>consultancy services under the IBPhoenix flag, too. I'm sure there
>are many others among us who feel they have this kind of stake in
>the IBPhoenix name and don't want to see a "Firebird company"
>setting up in competition.

OOh, now that's another surprise. Please please rethink this! A
Firebird database that is not distributed by Firebird, makes
absolutely no sense to me. It's a matter of marketing, of coherence,
of simple straight forward structures, of common sens, ...

If you want something like this, I rather recommend to make Firebird
Inc. commercial venture. But that's really not nice. You never told
on any of your sites that you had such strange plans for this
venture. I wonder if the active developers on the Firebird project
are at least aware of this. I have the impression you're cheating on
the community.

What I suggested was absolutely not in my interest, an association is
non-profit, I suggested it because I thought it in the very best
interest of the project.

Now I must learn that you have other plans, less open, less non-
profit, well, ....

> The association of InterBase and Firebird is *good* for all of us
>(and good for Borland, too, if they would remove the blinkers). The
>databases don't exist in a bubble - they need tools and applications
>surrounding them to make them marketable. To force total
>dissociation of Firebird from commercial InterBase would be very
>detrimental to our third-party people and would tend to cut off
>those commercial users who want to plan to upgrade to Firebird